Two incidents with quasi-law enforcement marked my first week back at work, and my first week back squeezing cycling into limited morning hours. I was a little rushed.
On my way to work, I enjoy the recently painted “Corbett Porch,” where street activists brightened the shoulders of two streets. They created a place for people to walk, bike, or sit outside at tables for the local coffee shop. But I’m running late.
Hurray! I learn that my building has a bike room, I have a card key, and there are two shower/changing rooms attached to the bike room. It’s great to park my bike inside because there’s been a rash of bike thefts in town, with thieves using small power tools to cut right through kryptonite-type locks.
To get to the bike room, I walk through double doors, and into an overly long passageway to another set of doors, and down another hall to the bike room door. I’m rushed this morning, so I save time riding my bike inside! The passageway is wide enough to accommodate at least five people riding abreast, in fact, it probably used to be a driveway. There is no one else in this very wide hall. It’s perfectly safe to pedal on through. At the second set of doors, I dismount, and walk the final 30 feet to the bike room.
After I change, I breeze past the elevator security guard with a chipper “Good morning, Scott!” And he says, “Was that you riding your bike inside?”
“Don’t do it”
“Ok, sorry.” [not sorry ]. Obviously, there was a camera and he is monitoring the feed.
I get up really early the next morning to beat the Tucson heat, and take a longer ride before work. This ride takes me through the foothills and to Sabino Canyon National Recreation Area, a 3.7 mile paved road open to pedestrians all the time, and cyclists before 9:00 am. So at 7:00 am I’m climbing through the canyon, enjoying the beautiful cliffs and stream and trees and shade. On the way up, I see a volunteer ranger heading downhill on his bicycle, I give him a friendly wave because I am always friendly to quasi-law enforcement.
I reach the top and descend. It’s steep, so without effort, I’m going fast. Ok, so the speed limit is 15 mph, and I know I’m going a little faster than that. Although it is a guesstimate because I have no cyclocomputer. I catch up to the volunteer ranger, and pass him just before the small hill that leads out of the park. I’m going hard uphill, so definitely not more than 15 mph speed limit at this point.
I crest the hill and begin another delicious descent to the exit of the park. The volunteer ranger chases me down and asks me to stop so he can “talk to me for a minute.” He accuses me of going 25 mph, and I want to say “prove it!” but instead say “really? wow.” I’m outwardly repentant, and inwardly “whatever.” And he goes on for too long about hikers complaining, bikes might be banned, etc. And I continue to apologize and when he suggests I get a cyclocomputer, I say I will. I will next year. And now I’m running late again because of volunteer ranger scold.
Occasionally I will bend laws on my bike; for example, slow rather than stop at stop signs. However, I have been actually stopping at stop signs, putting my foot down, as I commute through neighborhood and university streets.
Have I become an evil scofflaw cyclist? A renegade rider ignoring all rules and laws designed to keep everyone safe? I do have a little of that in me, and it comes out when I see drivers running red lights, car drivers turning in front of me, cars parked in the bike lane. If they’re breaking the law without consequences, why can’t I?
The next week, I’m better organized and not so rushed. I’ve figured out the best route door to door. I can relax a little and enjoy my commute. I take in the scenery and see this great sticker:
I see my city and its beautiful people, from the great vantage point of my bike saddle.